If you’re a consumer-electronics company, you live for the holidays. Your entire development cycle is skewed to release new products in the late fall. That’s just how it goes.
So how are the big companies doing this year? Here’s a quick report card.
Apple (AAPL).Big new products: Apple Watch 2 ($269-$1,099), touchbar MacBook Pros ($1,299-$2,799). Assessment: Smartwatches in general aren’t selling very well. The Apple Watch model is faster and waterproof, but doesn’t solve the one-day battery-life problem or answer the big “Why?” question.
The new laptops are crazy expensive and, because they have only USB-C jacks, require you to travel with a bag full of adapters. Still, Apple says that they’re selling like hotcakes.
Sony. Big new product: The PlayStation VR virtual-reality goggles ($400). Assessment: They’re selling great. They’re the first high-end VR goggles to rack up serious sales, probably because it’s the first pair that don’t require a souped-up PC to run. Instead, these plug into a PlayStation, which millions of people already own.
Fitbit (FIT). Big new products: The Fitbit Charge 2 (with screen and heart-rate monitor, $149.95-$179.95) and the Fitbit Flex 2 (waterproof, no screen, $99.95). Assessment: These are great trackers. The Charge was already the bestselling tracker from the bestselling company, and the Charge 2 is even better. The Flex 2 ran into manufacturing problems, which helps account for Fitbit’s recent stock slump; but the products are great.
Google (GOOG, GOOGL). Big new products: Google Home (a clone of the Amazon Echo, $130), Google Pixel phone ($650). Assessment: These are fine products, if derivative ones. Google Home does some things better than the Amazon Echo, and some things work; Google promises that it will get better and smarter over time. The Pixel phone has been well reviewed, and the smaller model is sold out; looks like Google has a hit on it its hands.
David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, welcomes non-toxic comments in the Comments below. On the Web, he’s davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s email@example.com. Here’s how to get his columns by email.